July 2020

Paedophile jailed for raping boy, 13, in shopping centre toilet

A paedophile who raped a 13-year-old boy in the toilets of a busy shopping centre has been jailed for 14 years.

Andrew Roberts, 49, attacked his victim in a cubicle at the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham on November 24 last year.

He forced the boy to perform a sex act before masturbating in front of him as shoppers passed by unaware, a court heard.

Prosecutors said Roberts only allowed his victim to leave once other people had left the toilet.

The boy rang his mother straight away and Roberts was subsequently arrested by police after they carried out their enquiries.

Roberts denied raping the boy but was convicted by a jury last month before being sentenced at Bristol Crown Court yesterday.

He had admitted engaging in sexual activity with the boy but claimed it was the teenager who had initiated it.

Judge Euan Ambrose said this was a ‘highly implausible account’ and highlighted the traumatic impact the attack had on the boy, who he said was self-harming.

A statement from the boy read out in court said he cannot stop thinking about the attack and is suffering with anxiety.

He said: ‘I feel anxious. I struggle to sleep. I stay awake until the early hours of the morning replaying the incident in my head. ‘I think differently about older men. I see them all as paedophiles.

I feel very embarrassed by what has happened. I don’t like going into public toilets any more.’ The boy’s parents, who attended the sentence hearing, said: ‘Roberts’ deplorable actions have badly affected our family.

We feel our son is constantly punishing himself for something that was not his fault. ‘We feel his future will be impacted by these events as he has lost all self esteem.’

As well as a 14-year sentence, the judge also imposed an indefinite sexual harm prevention order on Roberts and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge

Sentencing Roberts on Tuesday he said: ‘The jury panel rejected your version of events and your submission that you had misread the situation.

‘You still maintain this position – a highly implausible account of what happened, in which you state that you were not the instigator of the sexual activity but the victim.

‘However, since you were found guilty by the jury you have shown some remorse.

‘The young victim and his family have given this court their statements about the consequences of your actions which highlight the boy’s self-harming behaviour. These are very raw matters for the family and the harm and ongoing effects it has suffered.’

June 2020

Cheltenham man found guilty of raping child in shopping centre

A man who raped a boy in Cheltenham’s Regent Arcade shopping centre did so at random, Gloucestershire police have said.

Officers said Andrew Roberts did not know the 13-year-old boy when the “rare” and “truly terrifying” attack happened in a toilet on November 24 last year.

They said there was nothing to suggest there had been any grooming or any prior or post contact. This was a stranger attack, they said.

Roberts orally raped and sexually assaulted the 13-year-old in a toilet at Regent Arcade Shopping Centre in Cheltenham on 24 November last year.

Roberts did not know the boy and there is nothing to suggest grooming or any prior or post contact. This was a stranger attack.

Roberts, 49, of Bath Road, Cheltenham, was found guilty of raping the boy after a five-day trial at Bristol Crown Court

He is due to be sentenced on June 24.

The trial at Bristol Crown Court was one of the first in the country to take place since the outbreak of Covid 19 and went ahead despite the need for social distancing and other special arrangements in court.

The victim was able to give his evidence via a video link from a location many miles away from Bristol.